Two women that prosecutors said were attacked by suspected serial rapist Toby Eugene Griego testified on Tuesday, giving detailed accounts of what happened when they were assaulted last year.
Griego, 42, is being tried on 27 charges in connection with a string of home-invasion robberies, sexual assaults, kidnappings and an attempted sexual assault last year. He is alleged to have attacked four victims on Jan. 27, April 25, May 27 and July 2.
The women attacked on the first two of those dates were among the nine witnesses who testified Tuesday on behalf of the state.
The first victim testified Tuesday morning that she was repeatedly raped and repeatedly forced to bathe over about two hours early on Jan. 27.
The second victim testified that she awoke early on April 25 to a man in her bedroom. The man bound her and attempted to rape her, but she was able to fight him off and he ran away. The Gazette is not identifying either victim.
Both victims also testified that pictures — recovered from a phone seized from Greigo after he became a suspect in the case — showed them as the attacks were happening.
First victim testifies
“I woke up to a hand over my mouth and a knife to my throat and someone telling me not to scream,” the first victim testified.
She had been hanging out with friends the night before, first bowling and then playing a board game until she went to sleep.
She said her attacker bound, gagged, blindfolded and raped her with objects he found in her home. The man then forced her into a bathtub and made her scrub her body.
"He grabbed my hair and pulled me out of the tub," she said, during direct examination by Chief Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Rod Souza.
"I did (cry out) because it hurt so bad,” she said, explaining she was again violently raped. “I tried wiggling my body out of his grip and he hit me again. Blows to the head."
The victim also testified she could hear a clicking sound, like that of a camera.
She testified she was again forced to bathe.
The attacker, whom she said she never got a good look at, dunked her head under the water. She testified that she was thinking "that this man is going to drown me in my own bathtub."
She said after being raped yet again, the man put her face in a pillow and told her not to scream or move until he left. He pretended to leave the residence, but returned, mocked her, and then left, she said.
The woman estimated the ordeal lasted about two hours. “It seemed to go on forever,” she said.
During cross examination by Regional Deputy Public Defender David Duke, one of Griego’s two attorneys, the woman testified that she never got a good look at her attacker and thought he may have been someone she had met through her work as a server.
She had testified earlier she thought this because of comments her attacker made, including when he asked about her “money bag,” which she used to keep tips in.
“It was a working theory in my head because I needed to find someone to blame,” she told Duke.
Duke zeroed in on the description she gave to investigators, that of a white male in his 30s with blonde hair.
She said she based that description on seeing a small portion of her attacker’s light-skinned lower arm.
After the man left, she went to the home of a neighbor, who called 911. A recording of the call was played for jurors.
The neighbor who made that call, Tamika Wilson, and a responding officer, David Firebaugh, of the Billings Police Department, also testified on Tuesday.
Firebaugh testified that a man matching the description of a white male with blonde hair in his 30s was arrested on unrelated charges about a half mile from the attack on the first victim.
Duke questioned Firebaugh about this extensively, focusing on the fact that the man in question matched the description the victim gave for her attacker.
Firebaugh confirmed this was true, but also testified the man adamantly denied being involved in the rape and was never charged in connection to the assault.
Firebaugh’s testimony was followed by that of Lyndie Jolly, a nurse who examined the first victim.
Second victim testifies
The second victim began her testimony early Tuesday afternoon.
She said she had been out with friends on April 24, came home around midnight and immediately went to sleep.
She woke to “a man kneeling next to my bed, kind of going through stuff.”
Her attacker started choking her with one hand while he had his other hand over her mouth, she said.
She testified that he asked where her cash was and if anyone else was in the house.
"I thought it was pretty much a robbery that was going wrong," she said, but then the man gagged her with a sock, flipped her on her stomach and tied her hands with a T-shirt.
“I was terrified,” she said. “I didn’t know if I was going to get raped or killed or what was going to happen.”
Just as the first victim did, the woman testified that she heard clicking sounds, like those of a camera.
When she fought back, the man gouged her eyes with his fingers, the woman said, but she struggled again, this time getting free.
She screamed at the man to leave, and they struggled again. He punched her in the eye. When she looked up, he had run away.
She said after cutting her bindings with a pair of scissors, she went to her roommate's room and broke down the door. She said they pushed a trunk in front of the door because they were worried the attacker was still in the house.
Her roommate called 911.
During his cross-examination of the second victim, J. Thomas Bartleson, one of Griego’s two attorneys, asked about one of her former co-workers, Phillip Matthews.
The woman testified that last June she had mentioned Matthews to law enforcement in connection to her attack because he was bald, had stubbly facial hair, was white and had a medium build — all of which were consistent with her assailant.
Bartleson, who works in the major-crimes unit of the Office of the State Public Defender, admitted as evidence a photo of Matthews.
Under questioning by Chief Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Juli M. Pierce, the woman explained that she had never named Matthews as her attacker.
"As you sit hear today, do you think Phillip Matthews is the man who broke into your home, kidnapped you and attempted to rape you,” Pierce asked.
“No, I do not,” the woman said.
“And the pictures you identified today in the courtroom were on the defendant’s phone, correct?” Pierce asked.
“Yes,” the woman replied.
The state then called Matthews who testified it was “disgusting” that anyone would suggest he was involved with the attempted rape of the second victim.
“I love my mom and dad very much and my girlfriend and I wouldn’t want anyone to think of me that way,” he said. “It’s just nothing I would want to be associated with.”
Matthews said he was sleeping, working or otherwise occupied at the times of all four attacks Griego is charged with committing.
The prosecution's final witness Tuesday was Billings Police Officer Grant Morrison, who testified about responding to the attacks on May 27 and July 2.
Both of those victims are scheduled to testify in Griego’s trial, which is scheduled to resume Wednesday at 9 a.m.